Thousands of protesters march to Thai army HQ in Bangkok

BANGKOK : Thousands of anti-coup protesters, organised by allies
of ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra, marched Saturday to the Thai army
headquarters to demand that the military leaders step down.

About 6,000 people joined the march from a plaza near the Grand
Palace to the army headquarters two kilometres (one mile) away,
according to police.

Two Buddhist monks in saffron-coloured robes led the march along with some of Thaksin’s closest allies.

Many of the protesters wore white T-shirts with headbands that read “Non-violence”.

About 3,000 unarmed police stood guard along the tree-lined Royal
Avenue as the marchers made their way through Bangkok’s historic
district, which is filled with palaces, temples, and government
offices.

“Up to 900 unarmed police are deployed at each point along the
marchers’ path. They are under strict orders not to use violence,”
Bangkok police chief Lieutenant General Adison Noncie told reporters.

The marchers want the military leadership, which calls itself the
Council for National Security (CNS), to resign and for new elections to
be held.

They shouted “CNS get out” and carried banners reading “Overthrow CNS.”

Protesters have taken to the streets every night this month to
demand the leaders’ resignation, sometimes attracting as many as 15,000
people.

Pro-democracy activists, anti-poverty campaigners and Buddhist
monks have staged their own protests against the junta in recent
months.

The protests began to grow after Thaksin suffered a series of sharp
legal setbacks that angered his supporters, who feel he has been
unfairly persecuted by the military leadership.

Last month a military-appointed court disbanded Thaksin’s party and barred him from political office for five years.

– AFP/ch

MonstersandCritics.com

Thai anti-coup demonstrators march on army headquarters


Jun 23, 2007, 9:55 GMT

Bangkok – Thousands of anti-coup
demonstrators marched on army headquarters in Bangkok Saturday
afternoon to demand the resignation of the junta that ousted former
prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on September 19, last year.

About 10,000 protesters, sporting headbands that read ‘no violence,’
marched along Rajdamnoen Avenue in the old part of Bangkok from Sanam
Luang, of the ‘Royal Grounds,’ to Army Headquarters, to demand the
immediate resignation of the Council of National Security (CNS), as
Thailand’s junta styles itself.

The demonstrators, grouped
under the Democratic Alliance Against Dictatorship (DAAD) grouping,
have somewhat ambitious goals of dissolving the junta, annulling last
year’s coup, rescinding all the political consequences thereafter and
calling for a general election in which ousted premier Thaksin
Shinawatra and his now defunct Thai Rak Thai party may contest.

A Constitution Tribunal on May 30 dissolved the Thai Rak Thai party for
committing fraud during the April 2, 2006, polls and barred Thaksin and
110 other party executives from politics for the next five years.

The pro-Thaksin DAAD movement has thus far failed to draw more than
10,000 people to their rallies and last weekend’s protest was dispersed
by heavy rainfall.

Another monsoonal shower pelted the
protesters Saturday afternoon right after the reached army
headquarters, dampening their spirits, eyewitnesses said.

The
DAAD have pledged to keep up their anti-coup protest until Sunday,
which marks the 75th anniversary of the military coup that overthrew
Thailand’s absolute monarchy and ushered in the country’s rocky road
towards democracy.

Over the past 75 years, Thailand has
witnessed 11 successful military coups, 12 unsuccessful ones and 17
constitutions come and go.

The September 19t coup overthrew
Thaksin, a billionaire telecommunications tycoon who was prime minister
between 2001 and 2006, on the grounds that he was deemed corrupt, had
undermined democracy and the constitutional monarchy and had divided
the nation.

After eight months of investigations, the legal
charges against Thaksin have started to pile up. On Thursday Thaksin
was officially charged with corruption in a dubious land deal made by
his wife in 2003 when he was still premier.

On Wednesday
Thaksin and his wife Potjaman were issued a police summons to appear in
Bangkok before June 29 to hear charges against them in a
share-concealment scam.

Thaksin, who has been living in
London since the coup where he now is busy finalizing his purchase of
the Manchester City football team, has said he will not return because
Thailand is under a dictatorship and he doubts he will receive justice.

Current Thai Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont on Saturday
morning urged Thaksin to return to face the music while guaranteeing
his safety should he decide to do so.

‘He should come back.
If the law requires him to return, then he has to return, otherwise he
will face additional legal troubles,’ Surayud said on his weekly
Saturday morning talk show.

© 2007 dpa – Deutsche Presse-Agentur

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